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Cardiff Council to Flog off Our Cultural Treasures and Books!!

Adam Johannes | 04.09.2008 09:53 | Culture

""There is nothing else here in Wales as the library in Aberystwyth concentrates more on Welsh texts. Students would have to go to London for their research. If these books disappear from Cardiff, research will grind to a halt"

"A lot of people are aghast about this. For Cardiff, having these books is the difference between Cardiff being a local and Welsh interest library to being a library in the international league. In the past the council has not invested in these books and did not include them on the electronic catalogue, which means that the majority of people did not know they were there."

Dr Wyn James, Secretary of Cardiff Welsh Bibliographical Society, speaking to the BBC

One occasionally suspects that certain senior Council leaders have never read a book, this certainly might explain the wanton barbarism of the mafia who run the Council putting up our cultural treasures up for auction. This act of cultural vandalism from the LibDem/Plaid Coalition marks a new low point and a step back for the city.

Books that may be flogged off include Tyndale's Bible, one of the oldest English translations of the Bible, published in the 16th Century when translating the Bible into the common tongue was a deeply suversive and political act, risking death; Second edition Shakespeare's; Key English and European texts from the Protestant reformation; And a substantial and significant collection of political tracts from the English Civil War, an epoch of democratic struggle and revolution that our politicians may wish to forget, when the people deposed an autocratic and out of touch leader.

While certain books will be saved - including the 13th Century Llyfr Aneirin (The Book of Aneirin), the manuscript collection (including the Captain Scott manuscripts and Bute papers)., and early printed Welsh books and bibles, including a Bishop Morgan bible - Already over 100 books have been sent to the auctioneer with little evidence of public consultation, and talk of up to 18,000 antique books - many dating as far back to the 15th Century - to be flogged to the highest bidder.

Indeed, according to Peter Keelan, Head of special collections and archives at Cardiff University Library, the first batch of books date back to the 1500s and are probably the most valuable of the books being sold.

He identifies the key importance of this collection:

"There is nothing else here in Wales as the library in Aberystwyth concentrates more on Welsh texts. Students would have to go to London for their research. If these books disappear from Cardiff, research will grind to a halt."

Cardiff University has expressed an interest in taking custody the books to so that people from all over Cardiff could see them, and they would be available for scholars and research, but how could a university library match the sums that the Council will get from the auctioneers?

A new campaigning group, Cardiff Heritage Friends, has been launched as a coalition of local residents, historians, other academics, solicitors, and librarians, that is calling for the council to stop the sale "of some of Wales' greatest treasures".

This marks an escalation of the local council's attacks on public libraries and our cultural heritage. The council claims that it will use the sale from its cultural vandalism to fund public libraries, but should culture be funded by attacking culture?

When Cardiff Central Library was moved to its temporary home in a glorified shed, Council Leader, Rodney Berman made much spin of Cardiff soon having a 'state-of-the-art Library' but beneath the blather lies the reality that the new Central Library will contain much fewer books than the previous incarnation - what is this but a cut? Indeed, before the Library moved to its temporary home, hundreds of important books, many of them out-of-print and unavailable from bookshops were similarly sold off.

"Where there is no vision - the people perish". The Leaders of the Council have made it clear that they are not men and women of culture: The disgraceful threats to close one of Wales' finest music venues, the Point, the demise of the Coal Exchange, the hassle around the Toucan show this, the attempts to build a road through Bute Park. Or rather they have their own culture based around money and profit, expressed in Rodney Berman fighting hard to bring a Super-Casino to Cardiff, the St Davids Centre 2, and one of Wales' poorest areas - Loudon Square - being in an area that has had billions poured into 'regeneration' and surrounded by new luxury flats.

We hope to articulate an alternative vision of our city, and struggle to make Cardiff a city of culture and a city of the people.

Cardiff Left Alternative

Adam Johannes
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Display the following 2 comments

  1. Hands off our Books! — Book Worm
  2. Open Letter to Cardiff City Cllr's, AMs and MPs — Anti-Philistine